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Riigikogu

The Riigikogu passed an Act and three Resolutions:
 
The Act on Amendments to the Chemicals Act, the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Act, the Rescue Act and the State Fees Act (817 SE), initiatedby the Government, which organises the regulation related to the right of activity of dangerous enterprises and enterprises liable to be affected by a major accident, was passed with 69 votes in favour. The Act introduces several procedural amendments and brings the existing law into conformity with the modern legal policy trends. The procedural amendments provide expressly the requirement of an activity licence, among other things.
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State in Iraq” (849 OE), submitted by the Government, which extends the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in the membership of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) is extended until 31 December 2011, was passed with 61 votes in favour.
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in Performance of the International Duties of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (848 OE), submitted by the Government, which extends the time limit of the use of up to three members of the Defence Forces in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria led by the UN (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization – UNTSO) until 31 December 2011, as of 1 January 2011, was passed with 61 votes in favour.
 
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit of the Use of the Defence Forces in Performance of International Duties of the Estonian State under the Peacekeeping Mission in Afghanistan” (847 OE), submitted by the Government, which extends the time limit of the use of up to 170 members of the Defence Forces in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in the membership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by NATO until 31 December 2011, as of 1 January 2011, was passed with 55 votes in favour.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of eleven Bills:
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Forest Act (843 SE), initiated by the Government, creates preconditions for implementation of the digital conveyance document. For this purpose, the requirement of the obligatory form of the conveyance document is eliminated and the possibility to prepare a digital conveyance document is provided. Also, the flexibility and transparency of the provisions concerning the planning of regeneration cuttings in a state forest is increased and the mistakes which have become apparent in the Act are eliminated. The Estonian Green Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 20 votes in favour, 48 against.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Peace-Time National Defence Act and the Defence Forces Organisation Act (880 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee, updates the terminology related to national defence and renames the current strategic plan for military defence the national defence strategy. The Bill (805 SE) is in the legislative proceeding again because it was not supported with the required 51 votes at the final voting on 24 November.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Notaries Act, the Notary Fees Act and the Euro Adoption Act and Associated Acts (833 SE), initiated by the Government, eliminates the unconformities between the provisions of the amendments to the Notaries’ Fees Act and the State Fees Act made by the Act on Amendments to the Land Register Act, the Law of Succession Act and Other Associated Acts, and the amendments to the Notaries’ Fees Act and the State Fees Act made by the Rescue Act, the Fire Safety Act and the Euro Adoption Bill, which will enter into force on 1 January 2011.
 
The Bill on Amendments to § 66 of the State Assets Act (840 SE), initiated by the Rural Affairs Committee, makes it possible for an agricultural producer, who has been cultivating the land under a temporary land use contract, to become the owner of the land in cultivation which they have been legally using and ameliorating so far. As a precondition, they must have been the last legal user of the land prior to its transfer.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act and Other Acts (813 SE), initiated by the Government, comprises proposals to amend primarily the provisions of the Law of Obligations Act which regulate the consumer’s contractual rights. The motions to amend concern the regulation of standard terms, the contract negotiated away from business premises, the distance contract, the contract of customer sale, the consumer contract for services and the package travel contract and are based in most part on transposition of European Union directives. At the same time, the Bill contains proposals to change the regulation of the specifications for withdrawal from consumer contracts and to change the regulation of advance payments in case of consumer contracts, and the Consumer Protection Act is also amended in this connection.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act (856 SE & 209 SE), initiated by the Government and the Estonian Centre Party Faction, is to regulate the employment opportunities of the students who are studying to become health care professionals, that is, to create the possibility for students to practice as a doctor. Another purpose is to bring the current legislative regulation into conformity with the European Parliament and Council directive on the principles of the recognition of professional qualifications.
 
With the entry into force of the Bill on Amendments to the Local Government Organisation Act (835 SE), initiated by the Government, the education requirements that are a precondition for appointment to office of rural municipality and city secretaries will be more specified and disambiguated in terms of the principle of legal clarity.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Defence Forces Organisation Act (861 SE), initiated by the Government, is to bring the Act into conformity with the relevant EU directive which raises the minimum rates of excise duties on tobacco products and specifies the definitions of tobacco products with a view to ensuring harmonised application of the excise duty. In addition to the amendments arising from the directive, significant amendments introduced by the Bill include extension of the special conditions for operating the excise warehouse to wine production because fermented beverage and wine are equal products which have to be treated similarly. It also specifies the conditions of excise duty exemption of fuel brought from other Member States and from non-Community countries by travellers. The Bill will bring along positive impacts on the business environment and the activities of undertakings.
 
The Media Services Bill (827 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the procedure for the provision of audiovisual media services and the radio service, that is, the media service, the principles of the activities and the requirements for service providers. It also provides the procedure for granting activity licences for provision of the television broadcasting service and the radio broadcasting service to persons in private law and for registration of the provision of an on-demand audiovisual media service, and the principles of the protection of a person who provides information to a person who processes data for journalistic purposes, that is, the source of information.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act and Associated Acts (874 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, specifies the regulation of the limitation period of fines for delay, the use of emergency lights of emergency vehicles, the bases of establishing the rates of compensation for towing of a vehicle to a guarded storage facility and storing it there, and the transitory provisions relating to the date of the medical examination of drivers of power-driven vehicles and the right to drive. On the proposal of the Economic Affairs Committee, the entry into force of both the new Traffic Act which was due to enter into force as of 1 January and the Bill on amendments to this Act will be postponed by half a year. According to the proposal of the Economic Affairs Committee, both Acts would enter into force as of 1 July 2011.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Public Procurements Act and Other Associated Acts (860 SE), initiated by the Government, ensures more specific regulation of the sphere in order to organise public procurements more effectively. The establishing of the procurement procedure creates improved procedural clarity, increased uniformity in the activities of contracting authorities, better controllability in the procedure for supervision proceedings and continuity despite staff changes, and helps ensure implementation of the principle of transparency and controllability. The Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The motion was not supported. The result of voting: 21 votes in favour, 41 against.
 
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of ten Bills:
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Population Register Act and Associated Acts (876 SE), initiated by the Government, simplifies the entry of data on the place of residence in the population register and prevents duplicated collection of the data collected to the population register to other databases. The Bill creates the legal bases, in conformity with the Constitution, for issuing data to natural and legal persons in the case of a legitimate interest.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Churches and Congregations Act (884 SE), initiated by the Government, resolves the problems which have emerged upon implementation of the Churches and Congregations Act, mostly in changing the information entered in the register of religious associations, and ensures fulfilment the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Holy See on judicial status of the Catholic Church.
 
The Bill on Amendments to § 17 of the Food Act (883 SE), initiated by the Government, is motivated by the European Parliament and Council Regulation on flavourings and certain food ingredients with flavouring properties for use in and on foods. As in the future the requirements concerning flavourings are provided in the new EU Regulation which will have to be implemented not later than on 20 January 2011, then relevant amendments should be made in § 17 of the Food Act in order to prevent duplicating of the EU Regulation.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Emergency Act and Other Associated Acts (871 SE), initiated by the Government, is to add the organisation of uninterrupted telecommunications services as a vital service to the Emergency Act and to give content to the concept of “uninterrupted telecommunications services”. The Bill specifies the definition of “special telecommunications services” in the Security Authorities Act. It also provides the bases of classification of the information related to uninterrupted telecommunications services.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act and Other Associated Acts (870 SE), initiated by the Government, brings along several simplifications for contributors to both mandatory funded pensions and supplementary funded pensions. The number of the different formats of applications for mandatory funded pensions is reduced and possibilities to react flexibly to developments on the market are increased. As regards mandatory pension funds, stricter limitations on investment in conservative pension funds are provided which presumably should ensure that, in the future, pension assets invested in a conservative pension fund will be better protected also when financial markets will be falling. As regards the supplementary funded pension, contributors to voluntary pension funds will be “tested” by pension management companies and account administrators. Before offering the units of a voluntary pension fund, it must be assessed whether this pension fund is suitable for the client, taking account of the investment objectives and the risk tolerance of the client.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Obligations Act, the Social Tax Act and the Non-profit Associations Act (881 SE), initiated by the Government, significantly improves consumer protection. The Bill is motivated by a new EU directive which significantly extends the range of contracts related to holidays. Chapter 20 of the Law of Obligations Act will apply to it in the future. Of the main measures improving consumer protection that are provided in the Bill, the most substantial are the regulation of pre-contractual and contractual notification, improved language requirements for contracts, extended withdrawal periods and the standard withdrawal form to facilitate the right of withdrawal, and deeming of the consumer to be automatically withdrawn from related contracts and the credit agreement for the consumer in the case of withdrawal from the main contract. The Bill extends the prohibition to require and accept any payments from the consumer before the end of the withdrawal period.
 
The Bill on Amendments to § 39 of the Medicinal Products Act (758 SE), initiated by the Government, specifies the Act as regards the purpose and content of the register of activity licences for handling of medicinal products and the obligation to communicate data to the register in order to ensure that new information technology solutions for the register of activity licences for handling of medicinal products are taken into use and implemented legally.
 
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to § 41 of the Health Insurance Act (873 SE), initiated by the Government, is to improve availability of the treatment of metabolic diseases by extending the range of the medicinal products potentially compensated by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund by including the food for particular nutritional uses, which is prescribed for medical reasons.
 
The Bill on Accession to the Protocol of 1996 to Amend the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1976 (853 SE), initiated by the Government. The purpose of the Protocol is to update insurance limits because the limits provided in the Convention, which were established in 1976, no longer ensure sufficient protection to the injured party in the case of claims provided in the Convention which enable limitation of damage.
 
The Bill on Amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (855SE), initiated by the Government, transposes to the legal space of Estonia the relevant European Parliament and Council directives amending directives on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities, on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services, on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services, and concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, as well as the Regulation on cooperation in consumer protection.
 
Four Bills and drafts were dropped from the legislative proceeding of the Riigikogu:
 
The Code of Administrative Court Procedure (755 SE), initiated by the Government, was not passed in the Riigikogu. The result of voting: 48 votes in favour, but the support of at least 51 members of the Riigikogu was needed for passage. The Draft was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic” (875 OE), submitted by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was not passed. The result of voting: 31 votes in favour, 46 against.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (838 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected from the legislative proceeding. The result of voting: 45 votes in favour, 22 against.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Bill on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (845 SE), initiated by the Estonian Centre Party Faction, was rejected from the legislative proceeding. The result of voting: 48 votes in favour, 23 against.
 
At Question Time, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip answered the question about the cooperation of the state and citizens in the case of a natural disaster, submitted by Mark Soosaar. The Minister of the Environment Jaanus Tamkivi answered the question about environment supervision, submitted by Rein Ratas, and the question about environment education, submitted by Mart Jüssi. The Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo answered the question about the equipment of the Defence Forces, submitted by Toivo Tootsen.
 
The sitting ended at 7.44 p.m.
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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